March 20, 2023

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Prince Harry and Meghan have been told to “vacate” Frogmore Cottage

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LONDON — Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have been asked to give up a royal residence gifted by Queen Elizabeth II for their use.

“We can confirm a request from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to vacate their home at Frogmore Cottage,” a spokesperson for the couple said in an email.

It is not clear exactly why the couple are now being asked to give up the five-bedroom home in Windsor. But the request comes before the coronation of Harry’s father, King Charles III, in May – and before a major government review of the royal family’s finances. Frogmore Cottage is part of the Crown Estate, which means it’s technically owned by the King.

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In the “exclusive world” on FrogxitThe Sun newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said the house had been offered to Prince Andrew, who lived on a larger royal estate in Windsor. The newspaper also said that the king intends to cancel the royal allowance for his younger brother. A spokesman for Andrew did not respond to emailed questions from The Washington Post. Buckingham Palace also declined to comment.

As an everyday practical matter, giving up Frogmore may not matter so much to Harry and Meghan. Now that they are no longer “working royals,” they are originally based in California, and although they have continued to stay at home while visiting Britain, such trips have been rare.

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But Harry has said publicly that he wants to mend strained relations with his family – even as his diaries of private conversations leak and family feuds publicized. This eviction may raise more suspicion that he will ever be welcomed back into the fold.

Prince Harry’s memoir attacks a family he seeks to change. They have no comment.

It is unclear if Harry and Meghan will come to Britain in May for the coronation, and if so, where they will stay.

Harry is suing the British government over his security arrangements while in the country. Although he travels in his own security, he wants to pay for specially trained British police officers, who have access to British intelligence. Meanwhile, the government resisted setting a precedent whereby individuals could pay the police.

in his memoirs “Reserve”, Harry recounts asking his grandmother, the Queen, for help after he and Meghan found their Nottingham Cottage abode in London too small. She recommended Frogmore to the Queen, who said it was pretty but at the time “a bit of a building site”. Harry described him as “charming and full of potential” and told the Queen it was a “dream come true”.

He and Meghan launched a renovation of the property — and sparked public controversy with their use of $3.2 million in taxpayer money. They paid that money back after announcing they were stepping down from their roles as royals in January 2020.

Frogmore would be a reduction in Andrew’s living arrangements, if he were to move in.

Andrew was thrown into the royal wilderness last year, amid a lawsuit brought by an American who said she was forced to have sex with him as a teenager. Andrew denied any wrongdoing but settled the case. The Queen also took his titles and patronage.

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But he stayed at the Royal Lodge, a sprawling house three miles from Windsor Castle. He has been living there since 2004, with Sarah Ferguson, although the couple are divorced. The Queen’s dogs have also been living there since her death in September.

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In “Spear,” Harry describes the Royal Lodge as “one foot in another world” with “stunningly high ceilings” and “a cobbled driveway meandering serenely through vibrant gardens.”

The Sun tabloid reported that the King was intent on cutting Andrew’s “annual grant of £249,000, leaving him unable to afford” the costs of running the Royal Lodge. Andrew had been resisting moving from the 31-bedroom lodge to the five-bedroom cottage, the newspaper said.

Charles has long indicated that he wants to downsize the monarchy, and people have been watching to see if that translates to more modest lifestyles for the royal family.

The British government is also in the midst of an assessment – which takes place every five years – of the taxpayer-funded “Sovereign Grant” formula. This money is used to cover the operating costs of the royal family, including staff salaries, palace restoration, and travel. Any changes to the formula are expected to take effect next month.